Neal Bates with the Toyota 86.
Neal Bates with the Toyota 86.

Toyota 86 coupe grassroots motorsport series green light

TOYOTA is "giving some jandal" to its conservative image.

The Japanese carmaker has launched a grassroots motorsport series based on the Toyota 86 coupe which will be raced at V8 Supercars events next year.

Yesterday's announcement follows moves by the marque's luxury arm Lexus to become the pace car in this year's V8 Supercars season.

Both Toyota and Lexus are obviously keen to shake up their image and provide some excitement around the brands.

The 86 series will be run as a pro-am with up to five selected professional drivers who will mentor and compete against a larger field of amateur drivers who will qualify to get onto the starting grid.

All 86 race cars will be based on the GT manual with key specifications controlled to ensure their suitability and reliability while keeping costs as low as possible.

The Toyota 86 Pro-Am development car and Neal Bates.
The Toyota 86 Pro-Am development car and Neal Bates.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the company was committed to supporting enthusiast 86 owners in making the transition to racing.

"The 86 sports car has brought to life Toyota's brand promise as a company whose people love cars and are building exciting vehicles for customers," Mr Cramb said.

"The dynamic abilities and fun-to-drive characteristics of the 86 provide a credible platform for motorsport - and many owners already compete regularly in tarmac rallies, lap dashes and other events.

"The Toyota 86 Pro-Am series will present genuine, dynamic and entertaining racing to a broad audience, including big crowds at each round and a large audience on free-to-air and pay TV.

"Fundamental to the concept is that it is a grassroots motorsport series that is affordable for anyone who has both the passion and the talent to compete in a national series."

Toyota's 86 one-make series in Australia will be similar to series run in Japan, Germany and New Zealand.

V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said the Toyota 86 Pro-Am series was a welcome addition to the sport which offers its world-class racing categories the largest stage in Australasia and a significant global audience.

"It is indeed an honour that Toyota, the long-term market leader in Australia, sees the power in the V8 Supercars Series and for us to join the ranks of motorsport superpowers globally with whom Toyota has an association," he said.

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